Fifa World Cup: France, Morocco clash for spot in tournament finale

It is likely that Les Bleus will enjoy plenty of possession in the Moroccan half, but they will also have to guard themselves against swift counter-attacks

By AFP

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This combination picture created on December 12, 2022 during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament shows France's coach Didier Deschamps (left) in Doha on December 4, 2022 and Morocco's coach Walid Regragui in Doha on December 6, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
This combination picture created on December 12, 2022 during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament shows France's coach Didier Deschamps (left) in Doha on December 4, 2022 and Morocco's coach Walid Regragui in Doha on December 6, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Published: Tue 13 Dec 2022, 8:11 AM

Last updated: Tue 13 Dec 2022, 8:33 AM

On Wednesday, World Cup holders France and Africa's first-ever semi-finalists Morocco face each other at the Al Bayt Stadium with a place in the World Cup final at stake.

AFP Sport offers some insights into the intense semi-final match.


Morocco have conceded just one goal in the entire tournament — an own goal in their 2-1 win over Canada in the group stage — with Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal all failing to breach a rock-solid back line.

However, France boast multiple goal threats. Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud have scored nine goals between them, while Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann will also be poised to ask plenty of questions.


Photos: Reuters
Photos: Reuters

Morocco have a number of fitness concerns in their defence — centre-back Nayef Aguerd missed the Portugal game with a muscle injury and his regular partner, Romain Saiss, was substituted with a repeat of a hamstring injury.

Whoever Walid Regragui is able to send out will have to be fully switched on — France showed against England that even if Mbappe was neutralised, there were plenty of other sources of danger.

It is likely that France will enjoy plenty of possession in the Moroccan half, but they will have to guard against swift counter-attacks.

Morocco's style is direct, and although they tend to focus on the flanks (with Hakim Ziyech on the right and Sofiane Boufal on the left), they can also go long to striker Youssef En-Nesyri and then scamper forward in support.

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France's full-backs Jules Kounde and Theo Hernandez can expect a busy night, while Morocco will look to take advantage of any slip-ups from centre-half Dayot Upamecano, who had some shaky moments against England.

"We are well aware of their qualities, even if they don't often have possession," said Kounde.

"They are very efficient with the ball, they try to combine quickly, and find their wide players."

Morocco spent a huge amount of energy in their wins against Spain and Portugal, and with some players carrying injuries, Wednesday's game will be a real test of their durability and stamina.

The match against Spain went to penalties, while they faced a frantic second half against Portugal.

France, in contrast, have been able to take care of their knockout games without any extra-time, and should be much fresher.

Didier Deschamps' men will seek to exploit their fitness advantage by making Morocco work hard without the ball, switching play, and forcing Regragui's team to chase the ball — especially in the early stages.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

France have fewer injury concerns and more attacking weapons, but Morocco will have the crowd behind them at the Al Bayt Stadium, urging them to pull off another shock win.

The African side — known as the Atlas Lions — have been one of the best-supported teams in Qatar and will benefit from a huge backing on Wednesday as the first Arab team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.


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